Merrimack Valley COVID-19 Update
As the new school year gets underway, students and parents are adjusting to a statewide policy that calls for mask-wearing until at least October.
Under the policy adopted days before schools reopened, all public school staff and visitors must wear masks indoors through at least Oct. 1. Children under 5 are also recommended to wear masks.
Some students could be eligible for a medical exemption. Under the order, if a school has a vaccination rate of 80% or more on Oct. 1 when it is set to expire, a district could lift the mandate for those who are vaccinated.
Booster Shots Delayed
Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, reported on Sunday that he believes Pfizer vaccine booster shots will be available for a Sept. 20 target date, but Moderna shots will be delayed by a few weeks.
The Biden Administration had previously announced a plan to make third doses, or “booster shots,” of the COVID-19 vaccines available by the end of the month. The plan called for Americans, 18 and older, to get the third dose at least eight months after being fully immunized.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised the White House to scale back that recommendation, saying more data was needed.
In an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Fauci said he believes delivery of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will be able to start Sept. 20 for Americans who received Pfizer doses, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson may take several weeks longer. He noted the plan is pending approval by the FDA.
Fauci said it is “conceivable” that for Moderna’s booster, there might be “at most a couple of weeks, a few weeks delay, if any,” while the company provides more data to the FDA on its efficacy.
On Aug. 23, the FDA granted approval to Pfizer’s vaccine for two doses for people 16 and older. Pfizer is the first to receive FDA approval as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available under an emergency use authorization. For minors ages 12 to 15, Pfizer’s vaccine is still authorized for emergency use.
Currently, the CDC is recommending that individuals who are moderately or severely immuno-compromised receive the additional dose or the booster. That population is especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness, according to the CDC, and they may not build the same level of immunity to the two-dose vaccines as those with a healthy immune system.
Latest COVID-19 Numbers:
As of Tuesday, 5 p.m., the state’s COVID-19 statistics were as follows:
New Confirmed Cases 5,484
Total Confirmed Cases 720,175
Total Deaths 18,298
Full Vaccinations 4,531,700